John Barleycorn

July 22nd 2018



There were three men came out of the west, their fortunes for to try And these three men made a solemn vow John Barleycorn must die They've plowed, they've sown, they've harrowed him in Threw clods upon his head And these three men made a solemn vow John Barleycorn was dead They've let him lie for a very long time, 'til the rains from heaven did fall And little Sir John sprung up his head and so amazed them all They've let him stand 'til midsummer's day 'til he looked both pale and wan And little Sir John's grown a long long beard and so become a man They've hired men with their scythes so sharp to cut him off at the knee They've rolled him and tied him by the way, serving him most barbarously They've hired men with their sharp pitchforks who've pricked him to the heart And the loader he has served him worse than that For he's bound him to the cart They've wheeled him around and around a field 'til they came onto a pond And there they made a solemn oath on poor John Barleycorn They've hired men with their crabtree sticks to cut him skin from bone And the miller he has served him worse than that For he's ground him between two stones And little Sir John and the nut brown bowl and his brandy in the glass And little Sir John and the nut brown bowl proved the strongest man at last The huntsman he can't hunt the fox nor so loudly to blow his horn And the tinker he can't mend kettle or pots without a little barleycorn


To see a contemporary version of John Barleycorn sung by Billy Bragg and Imagined Village, please click the link here.


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